Boeing Expects Demand for Aircraft to Remain Strong

Aug. 07--Chicago-based Boeing Co. expects aircraft demand to remain strong during the next 20 years but shift to long-range, fuel-efficient single-aisle planes with strongest growth in demand coming from Asia.

Meanwhile, the aviation giant stuck by its forecast for plane production despite turmoil at a key supplier. Boeing, which sees most of its future in making commercial airplanes rather than in the defense industry, forecasts demand for 35,000 commercial aircraft during the next two decades worth about $4.8 trillion, Boeing officials said during a media briefing Wednesday.

That would double the world's fleet of commercial planes. The plane-making market is dominated by Boeing and European rival Airbus. The two divide the world market roughly evenly in sales of larger planes.

"We're in a very good position as we look toward the future," Randy Tinseth, marketing vice president, said at a briefing in Washington, D.C.

Generally, the market for airplanes for commercial use has held up despite a relatively weak world economy, Tinseth said. "We expect to gain momentum as we go throughout this year and see better results from an economic perspective as we get into 2014 and beyond," he said.

Cargo traffic, however, has not held up as well as passenger traffic. But that will likely rebound with in step with an improving world economy, he said. Airlines will continue a move toward buying new, more fuel-efficient aircraft, he said.

Boeing expects airlines to continue replacing 2 percent to 3 percent of their fleets per year with new aircraft. Many will be replaced by single-aisle planes capable of flying long distances, such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The plane was plagued by delays in its introduction and continues to experience glitches, including a serious overheating problem with an onboard battery that led to a worldwide grounding of the plane earlier this year. However, the plane model has been praised by airlines for its fuel efficiency and amenities for passengers.

Also during the briefing Wednesday, Boeing said its plane-production rates are unlikely to be affected by the potential sale of the wing division of Spirit Aerosystems Holdings, which warned of a second-quarter charge of up to $400 million on Tuesday and delayed its earnings release.

The Wichita, Kan.-based supplier makes wing pieces for all of Boeing's aircraft models and produces fuselages for its top-selling 737 model. Boeing still plans to increase production of 737s to 42 a month by mid-2014 from 38 currently, Tinseth said.

"We assume we'll find a way to build these airplanes," he said.

 

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